Discover Irish Tradition in Galway
Galway is the fourth largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the largest city located on the West coast of the country. The city is situated on the Wild Atlantic Way, one of the world’s longest coastal routes, and near some of the most spectacular natural wonders in the country. While Dublin is a wonderful and diverse international city, Galway is the true heart of the island, which has kept all the Irish tradition, hospitality, and culture. It is a place where you will hear locals speak Gaelic, or as it is often called here, Irish. In recent years, the city has gained international acclaim for the food and picturesque scenery in and around the city.
The center of Galway is littered with pubs, restaurants, cafes, artists and adorable small hotels. The main drag is located on Quay Street which is the home of some of the most famous establishments in town. The street is immediately recognizable by the numerous small national flags hanging over the cobblestone walkway. To start off your day, stop at the Coffeewerk + Press and enjoy a delicious American style mocha while shopping and enjoying the street art. One of the stores on Quay Street is the Thomas Dillons Claddagh Gold Jewelers, which includes the Claddagh Museum featuring the world’s smallest Claddagh ring. In fact, the popular ring was invented in Galway a few centuries ago and was named after the small fishing village on the west end of Galway named the Claddagh.
Across from the Claddagh is the Long Walk, a not-so-long stretch of a riverside path lined with colorful houses that are responsible for the most iconic images of Galway. On the West end of the walk are the Spanish Arch, the Galway City Museum, and the Hall of Red Earl. The Spanish Arch is the last remaining part of the city’s outer walls, and it protected the fish market where most of the trade in the region took place. Immediately next to the arch is the City Museum which is free and a great place to spend the rainy part of a day. The museum explores the history of the city and the impact of Galway on the Irish Revolution. The Hall of Red Earl, located behind the Museum on Druid Lane, is a 13th-century archaeological location that was discovered a few years ago. The Hall was Galway’s first municipal building. Due to this history and the unique local character, Galway has been chosen as the European Capital of Culture 2020.
At lunch, make time to visit Ard Bia at Nimmos next to the Spanish Arch in a historic building on the coast. It’s one of the many upscale restaurants that have gained Galway international culinary acclaim. Two restaurants, Loam and Aniar, have even earned Michelin Stars for the quality of their cuisine. However, make sure to make a reservation for any of the famous restaurants, because they fill up quickly and walk-ins are rarely accepted.
Following your delicious lunch, head towards the Galway Cathedral, which is one of the largest buildings in the city. The cathedral is primarily constructed from stone and, interestingly, contains an art piece of former United States President John F. Kennedy. Finally, at the end of a clear warm day, take a walk on the Salthill Promenade, a two-kilometer beach area that has views of Galway and the famous Aran Islands. After walking the entire promenade, it is a tradition to kick the wall at the far end of the beach.
At night, get some dinner at The Dough Bros, offering arguably the best pizza in Ireland. The atmosphere is fun and hip with numerous craft brews available as well. Definitely try the special dips with your leftover crust. Follow up your dinner with some Irish ice cream at Murphy’s. They have unique flavors like Brown Bread and Dingle Salt, as well as some flavors that have a little alcohol to get your night going on a good note.
At this point, you will probably be ready to visit one of the most noticeable and iconic pubs in the city. The blue and yellow façade of Tigh Neachtain will catch your eye as soon as you walk by. The cozy atmosphere inside is a great place to get some pints with friends to end an eventful day.
Galway is full of culture, history, and dining but its location is another reason that you should find time to spend a few days there. The city has a number of Ireland’s biggest attractions nearby and provides for some amazing day trips in almost every direction you decide to wander. To the south are the Cliffs of Moher. The most famous natural wonder on the isle. Nearby is also the Burren National Park which has unique rock formations and landscapes.
If you decide to go northwest, you will find yourself in Connemara National Park, a place described by Oscar Wilde as “in every way magnificent.” At the edge of the park, you can visit the most picturesque mansion you will ever see. Kylemore Abbey and its gardens make for a great venue for a picnic or a formal event. If you prefer to take a day trip, take a boat to the Aran Islands, famous for their ancient ruins and their very warm sweaters.
When planning your trip to Ireland, leave a few flexible days. Because once you stop in Galway, you will find it very hard to leave. And when you finally do, you will have Galway on your mind for the rest of your trip.